STEM Central

A Community of Practice for NSF STEM Projects

Discussion Summary: SIG: Learning Community/Bridge Programs

SIG: Learning Community/Bridge Programs

The focus of our session was to determine how we as a group can support each other and continue conversations that were started at the 2012 STEP Grantees Meeting.  We did this by:
I. Discussing in small groups the components that our learning communities and bridge programs have as well as identify things we need/don’t have
II. Identifying strategies for future communication/leveraging STEP Central
III. Committing to ways we can personally contribute to STEP Central

I. Summary of Discussion/Consensus from all 4 groups:
Please note that not all participants endorse the lists below, but some institutions felt strongly about the following project attributes:
Learning Communities
What are we doing well ?
• Soliciting support from STEM faculty and institution at large
• Collaborating  with residential staff on housing arrangements
• Identifying cluster/gateway courses for first year students
• Partnering with faculty on early undergraduate research opportunities  
• Involving/including peer mentors in learning community
What are we not doing so well?
• Increasing student participation/attendance
• Designing templates for program organization
• Designing  a scheduling system for cluster/gateway courses
• Tracking student success through “uniform” assessment
• Providing data to faculty for value/buy in
• Incentivizing/compensate faculty participation
• Forming a comparable control group
• Training mentors
• Providing second semester/transfer support
• Securing STEM faculty & Institutional support

Bridge Programs
What are we doing well?
• Collaborating with other staff including residence life, career services, orientation, admission
• Offering online study sessions
• Providing participant incentive in form of a stipend
• Outlining problem based and inquiry based learning tools
• Organizing residential program with exposure to labs, math readiness instruction, research opportunities

What are we not doing so well?
• Recruiting participants and determining criteria for participation
• Tracking participants after program competition including documentation
• Assessing/evaluating program success
• Developing web sites/online tools to promote program/encourage support
• Securing funding for program sustainability after grant
• Offering programming after first year


II. Strategies for Future Communication/STEP Central Leverage (limited to ones not already available)
• FAQ lists by category
• Regional meetings
• Scheduled Skype/video conferences
• Conference calls by topic/concern/success  (quarterly)
• Assessment/evaluation tools/templates
• Literature repository
• Webinars
• “MisSTEP” Corner on site (what not to do)
• Anonymous postings
• Inform people how to use RSS feeds to get STEP Central content and updates (not clear how to get subscribed)

III. Individual commitment to meet  STEP Central leverage strategies
Each table leader will email participants about commitments that should be completed by April 15.  Some things to look for will include:
• Logging in to STEP Central and updating personal profiles
• Uploading templates used for learning communities/bridge programs to include applications, brochures, manuals
• Uploading successful projects that can be used as example of programming for learning communities and bridge programs
• Uploading course syllabus for transitional course used in learning community
• Suggesting ways to track and measure student success in learning communities